Raw Tuesday: how to convert raw files

How to convert raw files: some of the most common questions about raw conversion answered and explained

We’ve told what you need to know before shooting raw files, and last week we gave you the honest truth on what shooting raw can actually do for your images. In our latest Raw Tuesday post on using the raw format we’ll explore some of the common questions about raw conversion. Our simple guide should have you getting more from your raw files in no time.

How to convert raw files: some of the most common questions about raw conversion answered and explained

Which software should I use to open and edit my raw files?


There are loads of different options when it comes to choosing raw conversion software. Which is best for you depends on how many pictures you shoot, what type of images you take and how much you want to adjust your raw images.

Most digital cameras come supplied with software that you can use to convert your raw files. These programs are a good place to start, especially as they’re free, but they tend to be slow, clunky and a bit basic.

Raw converstion: Adobe Camera Raw for highlight recovery

For more comprehensive corrections to your raw images, such as highlight or shadow recovery, try using the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) converter built into Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements.

The converter 
in Photoshop CS5, for example, offers a huge range of adjustments, including a Healing Brush for removing dust spots and a great black-and-white conversion tool (ACR is so good you can often avoid having to use Photoshop proper).

The Elements version of ACR isn’t quite as powerful for editing raw files, but is still more comprehensive and easier to use than the program that came with your camera .

Dedicated raw-processing software is also handy if you regularly need to process and organise large numbers of images – try Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture or Capture One Express/Pro 6.

These useful programs offer much smoother and easier workflows than Adobe Camera Raw or your camera maker’s own software, but they also have lots of enhancement and editing options.

If you are used to Photoshop’s layout and features, you’ll probably find Lightroom the easiest of these to master, because it’s based on the same ACR software.

PAGE 1: Which software should I use to open and edit raw files?
PAGE 2: I can’t open my raw files in Photoshop CS or Elements. What can I do?


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